Imagine a world without pain. It might sound great, but losing our pain response would cause more harm than good. The ability to feel pain is what stops us consistently damaging our bodies. For example, some children persistently eat sharp objects, but they don’t feel any pain and therefore don’t realize the harm they are doing to their bodies.
So we know that pain is useful, but it is also very mysterious. Doctors have shown that if we are distracted we can block out pain, which is why they have started giving computer games to recovering patients.
In today’s experiment you will put that theory to the test by subjecting your friends to some moderate pain and observing what happens to their pain tolerance when they are playing computer games.
What you will need: a basin, lots of ice, a thermometer, a video game system, a stopwatch and three or four willing friends.
(JOHN PHILLIPS, STAFF WRITER)
Step 1: Fill the basin with water and add about half of your ice. Leave it for ten minutes then take the temperature.
Step 2: Put the basin in front of a chair. Make sure there are no electrical cables around, because the basin might tip over.
Step 3: Ask your first friend to take off their socks and shoes and dip their toes in the water. Start your stopwatch. Time how long your friend can keep their toes in the water before it gets too painful. Don’t let your friend keep their toes in for longer than five minutes because it could be dangerous. Record the time on paper.
Step 4: Add more ice, so that the temperature returns to what it was in step 1. Go through steps 2 and 3 with your other friends.
Introduce a distraction
Step 1: Go through exactly the same steps as above, but this time give your subjects a video game to play while their toes are in the ice water. Record your answers in a table.
Step 2: Thank your friends and give them some kind of reward.
Step 3: Calculate the average time increase and average percentage increase of pain tolerance.
Why do you think pain tolerance rises when we are distracted? Research it online or at your local library.
1. pain n.
疼痛 (teng2 tong4)
2. persistently adv.
持續不斷地 (chi2 xu4 bu2 duan4 de5)
3. distract v.i.
分心 (fen1 xin1)
4. tolerance n.
忍耐力 (ren3 nai4 li4)
5. dip v.i./v.t.
浸泡 (jin4 pao4)
6. average n.
平均數 (ping2 jun1 shu4)
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